I'm Dreaming of an INM Christmas...


Bishop Jonathan Keaton with his red flannel pajamasIn my previous assignment, one District gifted me with a pair of RED FLANNELS. They didn’t want me to get cold.

It was a kind gesture. I never got around to wearing those red flannels. But I had a dream about them. If a significant number of churches paid their apportionments and received a percentage of members by profession of faith, I promised to preside in RED FLANNELS during one session of Annual Conference, OVER OTHER CLOTHES, of course.
Fortunately and happily, churches responded positively, some with a Ho, Ho, Ho or a Ha, Ha, Ha. But the goal was not fully achieved. Had it been reached, I would have been a sight for sore eyes, a fool for Christ or just plain inane for putting myself in such a predicament.
Relieved, I dumped those RED FLANNELS into my chest of drawers for safekeeping promising never to issue such a ridiculous challenge again. A recent sighting of those red flannels has me on the edge of another DREAM. Unbelievably, I dreamed of IGRC successfully completing our Imagine No Malaria (IMN) Campaign Goal by Dec. 31, 2012; wearing those RED FLANNELS around the office for pictures and presiding in “those things” for one session of Annual Conference, OVER OTHER CLOTHES, of course. “I prayed about it. “I thought about it.” “And, I couldn’t do it.” Why? ”I lost my bodacious nerve.”
Reverie aside, I am challenging the 860 churches of Illinois Great Rivers Conference and myself to raise $141,000 by the end of the year. If every church found a donor to give $164, we’d go over the top. I’ll be the first donor. Best of all, it would be a perfect Christmas Present for more of our neighbors in Africa wanting to be saved from death by malaria. We could shout Hallelujah crossing the finish line before singing Auld Lang Syne beginning the New Year.
I hate to admit it but another RED FLANNEL thought popped into my head. If I brought “those things” i.e., my RED FLANNELS to Annual Conference, stood beside them, holding my nose, while the conference snapped pictures, would that be incentive enough to wrap up this campaign by Dec. 31, 2012?
Not only am I dreaming of a White Christmas, I’m dreaming of an IMAGINE NO MALARIA Christmas in a land where no “tree-tops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.” I’m dreaming of a continent where the words “May your days be merry and bright” are as welcome and realistic there as here.
Join me in celebrating our dream fulfilled December 31, 2012. Goal Accepted. Goal Completed. PAID IN FULL!! Then, the Bishop can stand proudly in place at Annual Conference taking pictures with his RED FLANNELS close by. No Ho, Ho, Ho’s or Ha, Ha, Ha’s allowed (Smile). Seriously, “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Peace on earth” are no daydream; with these words Beverly and I wish the best for you and yours during this Advent and Christmastide with joy overflowing.         
Bishop Jonathan and Beverly Keaton